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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Stewardship during an economic crisis

What a recession means for congregational giving

We pray in hope that one of the worst economic crises in our country's history will soon reverse itself.

Member puts offering in collection plateVirtually every aspect of our daily lives has been affected by the economic downturn. But, historically, congregational giving has had some degree of immunity from a poor economy, said Charles R. Lane, director of Stewardship Key Leader, a program of ELCA Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission. "I've been a pastor long enough and seen plenty of recessions come and go. I've never seen a major drop in giving because of economic downturns. But then I've never served a congregation located in a town where there was massive job layoff."

Lane said a colleague, who's been doing capital appeals for 20 years, assured him that he's never experienced a dramatic drop in giving during bad times. "What I saw last year is people cutting back in stock gifts to congregations," Lane said. "Some held back with the idea that they'll make the gift sometime during the three-year donation period when the stock has regained some value. But the vast majority of congregations that did capital appeals in 2008 have done just fine."


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